TODAY is World Mental Health Day. The day comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The day, which is an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), was observed for the first time on October 10, 1992.
Although ensuring mental health is not a one-day event, the day seeks to increase awareness in the global community of critical mental health agendas, with a unifying voice through collaboration with various partners to take action and bring about lasting change through the messages that are promoted.
The world is experiencing the unprecedented impact of the current global health emergency due to the COVID-19 that has also impacted on the mental health of millions of people.
This has brought about widespread levels of anxiety, fear, isolation, social distancing and restrictions, uncertainty and emotional distress as the world struggles to bring the virus under control and find solutions.
The past months have also brought many challenges to healthcare workers, who provide care under difficult circumstances and go to work with the fear of bringing COVID-19 home with them, while, for students have adapted to taking classes from home, with little contact with teachers and friends, and anxious about their future.
The current worldwide pandemic arose against an already dire mental health landscape that saw mental health conditions on the rise across the globe.
According to the WFMH, the economic consequences of the pandemic were already being felt, as companies let staff go in an effort to save their businesses or, indeed, shut down completely.
Given past experiences with emergencies, it is expected that the need for mental health and psychosocial support will substantially increase in the coming months and years.
It is in view of this that The Mirror agrees that investment in mental health programmes at the national and the international levels, which has already suffered from years of chronic underfunding, is now more important than it has ever been.
This is why the goal of this year’s World Mental Health Day campaign is ‘increased investment in mental health’.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 450 million people live with mental disorders that are among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
It said one person in every four would be affected by a mental disorder at some stage of their lives, while mental, neurological and substance use disorders exacted a high toll on health outcomes, accounting for 13 per cent of the total global burden of disease.
The Mirror recalls that the World Economic Forum (2018) noted that mental health disorders were on the rise in every country and could cost the global economy up to $16 trillion between 2010 and 2030 if the collective failure to respond was not addressed.
The paper shares in the statement by the Director-General of the WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, that the world was accepting the concept of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). where nobody should be denied access to mental health care because he or she is poor or lives in a remote place.
The Mirror shares in the belief that this is possible and it starts with strong primary health care that adopts a whole-of-society approach to health and well-being that is centred on the needs and preferences of individuals, families and communities.
We couldn’t have agreed more on the theme for this year’s World Mental Day celebration: “Mental health for all — Greater investment, greater access”.
We, therefore, wish to add our voice to the call on our government to invest more in mental health to make health for all a reality.
The paper believes that there should be collaborations and partnerships to ensure that investment in mental health is prioritised, particularly during this time of the COVID-19.
We of The Mirror believe that we are all in this together and we are stronger when we are together because through this, we can achieve the objective of achieving mental health for all.